Archive for the ‘Quick Notes’ Category

Answering Questions

October 10th, 2011 12 comments

Philosophers and theologians sometimes say that science can’t answer the important questions like, “Why are we here?” or “What is the meaning of life?” You know what? Neither can the philosophers or the theologians. They just pretend that they can. Science makes no such pretense.

Categories: Quick Notes, Religion, Science Tags:

It Gets Better

June 9th, 2011 Comments off

Hilarious idea from Chris Hayes, via Josh Marshall: David Vitter and Eliot Spitzer should make an “It Gets Better” commercial for Anthony Weiner. Marshall suggested adding Newt Gingrich, John Ensign, and others of similar ill repute in sex scandals. I say throw in John McCain.

Categories: Quick Notes, The Lighter Side Tags:

Quick Note

January 17th, 2011 Comments off

Last week, an entire nation, joined in mourning, almost learned how to spell “Tucson.”

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What Your Beliefs Are Based upon Does Count for Something

January 1st, 2011 7 comments

It’s telling that those who accept global climate change do so because they accept the science, even though it goes against their own personal interests. Truth be told, we want to gulp up energy using all of our modern conveniences and drive big, cheap gas guzzlers just as much as the next guy, when it comes right down to it. Those who oppose global climate change do so not because of any scientific models–in fact, it’s despite the science, “dissenting experts” BS aside–but because they are ideologically opposed and/or because they don’t want to go to the trouble or expense required should the theory be true. Like everyone else, they also want to enjoy conspicuous energy consumption. But instead of accepting a painful truth and making sacrifices, they simply reject the science so they can enjoy the luxuries without believing they are destroying the world for future generations in doing so.

In short: one side believes against their personal interests because the science tells them so, and the other believes because it is personally and politically convenient to do so. Which has more likelihood of being correct?

Categories: Quick Notes, Science Tags:

Once Again: Record Snowstorms Support Climate Change, Not the Opposite

December 30th, 2010 1 comment

Not that climate change deniers are usually honest, but if they really do respect fact instead of what they want to believe or what they want others to believe, then it’s time they recognize the long-known fact that global climate change does not mean everywhere gets hotter and snowfall decreases. Global warning trends disrupt weather patterns, causing some places to get colder despite overall warming. And more warmth means more evaporation which means it snows more in winter.

There. I’m sure that changed nothing.

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Quick Note: Reactions

August 26th, 2010 8 comments

Interesting that after the horrific 9/11 attacks, our attitudes toward Muslims was much more conciliatory and restrained than it was after a peaceful sect tried to set up a mosque two blocks away from the attack site nearly a decade later.

What does that say?

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July 18th, 2010 1 comment


Why can’t local stores ever carry cool stuff like this?

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Not That It Would Work, But I Wonder Why

July 9th, 2010 Comments off

I’m curious: in the BP oil spill, they tried plugging it with junk shots and so forth. Why wouldn’t a needle approach have worked? I assume that the problem with caps in general is that the pressure of the oil bursting forth blows off caps. But what if you made a cap in needle form, tapered at one end and with a weighted cap at the other, like a slender, 100-yard-long ice pick? The tapered end would be considerably smaller than the aperture of the well head, but the other end would fit. If that were lowered into the well, it would initially have little trouble going in because the oil coming out would gush around it; but as it descended and the thicker parts of the needle came down, the pressure from the well would have to work against the full weight of the metal in the plug, which would hopefully be heavy enough to counteract that pressure.

Not knowing anything about how these things work, I am sure there are fatal flaws in the idea. I just wonder what they might be.

Update: Seems like I wasn’t the first with the idea (by about 6 weeks). Some ideas on that page as to why it might not work–primary being obstructions.

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No Surprises Here

May 24th, 2010 3 comments

A self-proclaimed “ordinary citizen from Omaha, Nebraska,” horrified by President Obama’s “hard-left agenda,” has set up a right-wing tea-party lobbying group. Having worked for a right-wing think tank, she is “a fan of Rush Limbaugh” and is “intrigued by Glenn Beck” and listens to him “carefully.” By all measures, this person is about as hard-right-wing as you can get.

It should be no surprise, then, that she is the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas recently represented the tie-breaking vote in a case (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) which allows organizations like his wife’s to spend unlimited amounts of corporate donations on political ads naming specific candidates without full disclosure of where the money came from. Naturally, he did not recuse himself.

Categories: Quick Notes, Supreme Court Tags:

eBooks Article

April 25th, 2010 Comments off
Categories: Media & Reviews, Quick Notes Tags:


April 13th, 2010 Comments off

Democrats voted for the person, and we got Obama. Republicans (at least the politicians) voted for the color and got Steele. And the irony is that conservatives accused Democrats of voting for Obama because he is black, ignoring the charisma and the message, instead imagining massive “white guilt,” while Republicans without any doubt elected Steele because they felt they needed a black guy too, and he was best-positioned to take advantage of that. In effect, Democrats hired a man on his merits, while Republicans hired a man as part of an self-imposed quota system. Well, our president turned the job market around with the stimulus, got health care reform passed, and is making America respected in the world again by crafting responsible leadership, as seen with the recent nuclear treaty.

How’s your “any guy we could find so long as he’s black” working out?

Categories: Quick Notes, Republican Stupidity Tags:

On Being Wrong

January 17th, 2010 Comments off

Most people hate being wrong, even fear being wrong. Some will go to great lengths to assert their correctness, even (or especially) after they know that they’re wrong. Next to the desire for vengeance, this is perhaps one of the most destructive features of the human psyche.

While being wrong is not necessarily a great thing, it is also not a bad thing–on the condition that it is used to learn, in which case it becomes productive and even positive. But that’s the catch: you have to be ready and willing, even eager, to discover when you are mistaken about something. But it is good, and it is respected: people will admire a person who readily admits when they are wrong

The only thing wrong with being wrong is not admitting, to yourself and others, that you’re wrong.

If children were effective taught this from a young age, I think the world would be a far better place.

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Cops and Donut Joints

December 20th, 2009 2 comments

Sachi and I had a quick dinner at a Mexican grill in town tonight, and something I saw there made me realize something about Japan. A uniformed cop came in, had a drink, and left. And it made me realize that you never see that in Japan: uniformed police officers never come in to eating places as customers. You don’t see them sitting at tables eating food. Even donut joints.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2009, Quick Notes Tags:

How About This

December 12th, 2009 2 comments

How about we judge Obama on the wars he starts instead of the wars he inherited and are next to impossible to get out of?

Just saying. I don’t recall anyone judging Bush on Bosnia. Of course, Clinton won that war, and didn’t leave a quagmire. Bit of a difference.

Family Values Republicans

December 11th, 2009 Comments off

First we had “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Now, it’s “You should have said ‘green balloons.’

The victim told police that Jetton hit her on the face very hard and then remembers waking up to find Jetton allegedly choking her and having sex with her, according to the affidavit. The next morning, Jetton woke up, kissed the victim and allegedly said: “You should have said green balloons,” according to the affidavit.

This just a month after he divorced his wife.

Why is it the bible thumpers and family value pushers who turn out to be the most perverse?

Categories: Quick Notes, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

A Disturbing Thought

November 16th, 2009 8 comments

Something just struck me. Conservatives, especially the wingnuts, have a long-established trend of projection: they vociferously accuse the Democrats of doing stuff that Republicans do, despite the fact that the Democrats are not doing it. I have documented a slew of examples of this on this blog. I have noted before that if the wingnuts accuse the Dems of something, it’s usually more of a confession of their own crimes and intentions than anything else.

This is nothing new. But then it hit me: the wingnuts are now accusing Democrats of trying to destroy America, turning the country into a fascist state based on their political and philosophical leanings, making enemies lists, and building concentration camps to fill with their political opponents, while they bankrupt the nation and use health care legislation to kill off old people.


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Quick Note: Ads on Web Sites

October 24th, 2009 1 comment

I use ad blockers, like Pith Helmet for Safari. With Snow Leopard, SIMBL and Pith Helmet got disabled for the most part, so I added Click to Flash. Most of the ads show up now, but Flash is blocked unless I specifically allow it. And I confirmed something that I always knew:

I am perfectly fine with a web site full of ads. I might even click on one sometimes, despite a strong personal principle not to encourage them. But if any are moving or animated in any way, I bolt for the door. I can’t stand the damn things. If I can’t turn them off somehow, I never come back to that site. Ever. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone on this.

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The Difference

October 24th, 2009 2 comments

A lot of people decry not just people like O’Reilley, Limbaugh, and Hannity, but Olbermann and Maddow, as if they were of the exact same stripe. And there are similarities: all are stridently partisan political pundits with popular media opinion shows. But there is a great difference: the ones on the left are far more fact-based. They don’t make up crap as much, or exaggerate as much, or mislead nearly as much as those on the right. And that’s a very significant difference: while being a partisan is one thing, being a dishonest partisan is much worse.

I will admit happily and freely that I watch the liberals–but I would stop watching them in a heartbeat if they stooped to the lying, dishonest depths that the right-wing hacks commonly lower themselves to.

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Quick Question: Religious Rights

September 27th, 2009 Comments off

Does the first amendment only protect belief in a god, gods, or positive spiritual beliefs in general, or does it protect any belief regarding the ultimate make-up of the universe? Is a belief that there is no god just as much a qualification here? Is only worship protected, or just what you believe in general? Could atheists build a place where they gather to discuss atheism, and have it be protected and granted special status just like churches are?

Categories: Quick Notes, Religion Tags:

Quick Note: Take Advantage of the Crazy?

August 19th, 2009 1 comment

Maybe we can turn the crazy back on the Republicans. Start spreading rumors that the Republicans are plotting against the American people (it would not be technically untrue). Start sending out emails saying, “members of Congress are giving THEMSELVES nice, juicy FREE BENEFITS like a COMPREHENSIVE health care package–and they’re working hard to see that YOU don’t get in on it!” Or, “politicians in Washington are trying to KILL American BABIES and the ELDERLY by keeping them on substandard insurance!”

The key points of the campaign would be: (1) don’t name Republicans or the party; keep the culprits vague; (2) make it sound threatening and ominous, like there’s a conspiracy and you or someone you love WILL DIE if nothing is done; (3) use lots of capital letters, and, if possible, use the the Comic Sans font–for some reason, that seems to make it more “folksy,” and therefore it must be REAL.

It’s just stupid enough to work!

Categories: Quick Notes, Right-Wing Extremism Tags: